The Track

The track at Gilling has evolved over the years since the club’s inception in 1983 both in its layout and method of construction. The railway consists of an up and down main line loop of approx. 404 yds. There are two sizable shunting yards and one smaller one. The main lines and some other track branches take 71/4″ gauge traffic, 5″ and 31/2″. The shunting yards and underground storage is all 5″gauge. The original track circuit used aluminium flat-bottomed rail spiked to Jarrah timber sleepers which were nailed to longitudinal battens to give some stiffness to the track formation. The battens proved to be the Achilles heel of this construction as rot eventually set in despite being well soaked in creosote. Therefore, a few years ago they were replaced, sections at a time, with a cast concrete track bed, with alternate sleepers secured to the concrete with Raw plugs and wood screws. The concrete track bed is 15” wide and approximately 3”- 4” deep, expansion joints are fitted at intervals to avoid cracks developing. Before casting, hardcore is forced into the ground to stabilise the earth in that area as a lot of the ground is fine clay that is unstable when wet.

Before laying track, a concrete kerb is cast alongside the track bed to retain the ballast and provide an edging for the surrounding grass. The track panels are made up using 4 or 5 metre lengths of aluminium rail. For the curves, the inner rails are shortened by a calculated amount and all the rails are rolled to something like the correct radius. All the fishplate bolt holes are drilled before assembling the panels. The sleepers are precision sawn from full size Jarrah (or similar hardwood sleepers) and jig drilled with undersize holes to take the spikes. It is our practice to spike just one rail firmly to the sleepers at the assembly stage, leaving the spikes on the other three rails a little loose to permit easy lengthwise adjustment of the rails on site to equalise the rail gaps and to give greater flexibility to adjust the line of the track. It was decided, in addition to screwing alternate sleepers to the concrete, to bed each sleeper on Aqua seal roofing felt adhesive to provide a useful anti-rot layer under the wood and prevent small particles of grit from working in between the sleepers and the concrete. To provide a better bond for the adhesive, after rubbing down the concrete to remove any slight irregularities, the concrete base was coated with Febprufe bituminous liquid membrane. Finally, ballast is applied, which in this method of construction is purely cosmetic, the earthworks can then be tidied up and grass sown.

This method of construction was more finely honed for building the extension in 1996 – 1997 and for those interested in greater detail we suggest you read the articles in “Engineering in Miniature” March & April 1998 also issues 13 & 15 of “Turnout” the GL5 magazine. These also show photographs of construction methods. The yards use the same method of construction, though the concrete beds are wider to encompass several tracks, also point-work sits on ‘Y’ shaped beds so that all sleepers are always supported.

The main line, consisting of the up and down main lines each consist of just over 400yds. (The six-foot way is 404yds.)The steepest main line gradient is 1 in 80 and the minimum radius curve on the railway is 45 ft.

The picture at the above shows relaying operations by the method described above. Formerly that part of the original track was laid on heavy longitudinal wooden battens, but they rotted despite every treatment.

Loading and Steaming

We have 8 steaming bays with water and DC electric power. Loading is by electrohydraulic movable lifter or a ramp.

Entrance to the site for vehicles bringing locos and stock is through these gates.

There are some limitations arising from the track dimensions and line-side equipment.

The main one of these is wheel dimensions given below.